Bat Watching Tips

Several days ago, my husband thought he saw some bats flying from the treetops behind the house shortly after sunset. A couple of evenings, from about 10 minutes before sunset to 20 minutes after, I’ve propped the camera on the window sill to try to record any bats. No luck! :confused:

Maybe they do not fly off in the same direction every night?
Maybe the timing varies by more than 30 minutes?

Any tips for improving my chances of catching a bat observation?


I see bats when sun rises and when sun sets. so maybe you can seein g hem flying at that time,if you want to find a colony, follow them to home :)


Maybe they actually weren’t flying from the rooftop, but we’re doing a loop in their hunting route? Sorry, I’m not of a big help, we had bats patrolling territory near our house, but I never saw them landing anywhere, so they may actually spend days in a distance from where they hunt.


Have you thought about using a bat detector? These go for $180 US and will pick up bats, flying squirrels, and other mysteries at night like grigs - (has android & iOS options)
I use a detector to see what species are out and sometimes if it picks up a cool bat flying over I’ll use a flashlight to catch a glimpse. The detector has an auto-ID function that is occasionally accurate to species if you get a clean recording. Super fun little device and being able to hear their calls is great.

Other than that I would find a local roost or bat box and wait nearby around sunset with an open sky in the background to catch their silhouettes. At 1:33 in this video that I made with the Alberta Community Bat program you can see what I mean about the silhouette. Also, if you wait around lakes at sunset and into the evening you can often see them swooping at the waters surface for a drink.

Alternatively, setting up a moth sheet with a UV light can sometimes attract bats to feed above the light. A few places this summer it was non-stop Myotis picking off moths before they got to the sheet.
Good luck with the bats!


There are often viewing areas for very large bat colonies where groups of people watch them take off in the evenings. You’re a California local aren’t you, @teellbee? The Yolo Bypass Wildlife area near Davis, CA is a good spot for bat viewing in the summer (there’s a short blurb and a link to guided tours for bat viewing here: You can see plenty of bats for free just driving along the Yolo causeway at the right time of year, though it’s hard to take pictures from the car.

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Thank you @screedius for that tip. I’ve gone bat watching at Vasona Park, but that was with a bat specialist who had sensitive sounding equipment to pinpoint the bats’ echolocation. So, he could track the flight path and light it with a special big flash light. It was great. I’ve also seen bats a couple random times in the evening walking along the creek were I used to live.

Honestly, I will say it gets tedious sitting at the window hoping they will come by again. Although, the window sill made a stable place to park the phone. Driving along the Yolo river sounds more satisfying, though I doubt I could get a reasonable picture. It would still be very fun and engaging. We’d have to spend the night somewhere, though. I don’t like driving in the dark much anymore.

@jasonheadley The bat detector sounds intriguing, and much less expensive than I would have guessed. What types of outfits sell them, do you think?

@abhijatshakya LOL! I wish I was still nimble enough to chase a bat cross country. That would be AWESOME.

@marina_gorbunova Okay, I think you may be right. I am thinking now we did not see the bats leaving their roosting tree, but en route to hunting area. Well, it will still be fun to see if we can spot them again.


I don’t have any specific tips except to keep your car (if you have one) well away from the bats… their poop wreaks havoc on car paintwork!

On walls too, we often have to repaint out house exterior and yard walls for this reason. During fruit season their poop turns purple! lol

Arent they hibernating now? They might have woken up and gone back to bed.

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